Page 3 – Pokesdown: the name – What’s wrong with it? What could it be changed to?

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Did you know there’s a ‘Pokesdown Song’, from 1929-39, by Cumberland Clark?!

Pokesdown, on the Christchurch Road, has grown a lot of late, With the populace increasing at a very rapid rate. It’s a suburb now of Bournemouth, and a pleasant neighbourhood; It is laid out very nicely, and the architecture’s good. It once was known as “Puck’s Down,” in the happy long ago, Suggesting scenes of fairyland, where sweet romances grow; But of gorgeous wooded scenery poor Pokesdown is bereft, And I’m very much afraid there can’t be many fairies left.

Yet I call to mind the Pokesdown Wood; in memory I see its grace and charm, which some while back brought happiness to me. I have lingered in its shadows, mid a wealth of trees and flowers, And communing there with Nature, I have passed some happy hours. There were banks of moss and lichen, every kind of luscious growth; There were violets and anemones, a plenitude of both; And the sunshine glinting through the trees and brightening their green, Made a picture for the gods, a splendid transformation scene.

Where the wood was once a glory, there are houses now and streets; And there’s nothing much that’s sylvan in the scenery one meets. In my leisure moments often, since the site was built upon, I have wondered, rather sadly, where the fairies have all gone. Does it bring the fairies sorrow? Does it do them any good, When the builder’s in possession, and they’re exiled from their wood? Do they whisper farewells to us when at last they have to go? I have wondered, but I don’t suppose that I shall ever know.137

Christchurch Road, Pokesdown, looking east from Parkwood Road.
The image used for the sign now on Pokesdown Green! Source: front cover of John Young’s booklet
‘A History of Pokesdown: Part 2, The Town’. Postcard is date stamped 1908.
Sign on Pokesdown Green, next to the Bell Inn.
Photo taken 9th March 2021 for RPBC.

What’s wrong with the name “Pokesdown”?

“Some inhabitants have begotten a fancy that their locality suffers through a name they have got to believe is deficient in euphony and attractiveness; others declare the place is without a ‘down’, and are gulled by the far-fetched association of ‘pokes’ with ‘pigs’; others continue to love the old name…”
~ Christchurch Times, 29 August 1896137a

A debate about the purported lowly reputation of Pokesdown, and/or the unattractiveness of the name “Pokesdown”, has been going on for the past one hundred and thirty years! This has led some locals, businesses and estate agents to claim their properties are in Southbourne, West Southbourne, Boscombe East, or some other district name instead -because they feel that sounds better- and a repeated return to discussions about whether the name, of the area and/or the Station, should be changed altogether.

Photo of Southern Railway signage for Pokesdown. Source: GW Railwayana Auctions.

The “Pine-” based names made sense at the time because “a considerable area of Pokesdown had been planted with pine trees early in the 19th century, including much of the land along the overcliff”.137b

Newspaper image © The British Library Board.
All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive.
“declined to have it recorded that he lived in Pokesdown at all”!
Newspaper image © The British Library Board.
All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive.

The copy and paste citation for this page:

The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown – Pokesdown: the name, Page 3. Author: Michelle Fogg. Date: May 2022. Url: https://roseberypark.org/history/pokesdown-the-name-3/

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Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF